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Five Traditional Irish Songs/Ballads That Bring Back Memories of Loved Ones


Posted 8/01/2019

At the festive time of year just gone, our thoughts turned to those who were close to us that have passed away. As our family gathered, we noticed those that are missing.

Many families with Irish connections will know the importance of music to family gatherings. Some of the older generations would often break out into song. Singing songs from their youth when they were back in the Emerald Isle.

Music takes us back to those special moments. From talking to people who have lost loved ones, here is a list of songs that keep cropping up when they mention those who have passed.

Fairytale of New York
This song is as popular in Ireland as it is in America and throughout the world for that matter. It is a tale about Irish Emigrants faced with the harsh reality of a cold New York. Almost an alien world from where they have come from.

But the song is tinged with optimism. "The Boys from the NYPD Choir were singing Galway Bay" introduces a feeling of familiarity and security. It is a welcoming line for newly arrived Irish.

This is indeed the go-to Christmas song for Irish who moved to particularly the East Coast of America in the 1980s. Sadly many who have listened and sung this song in times past are now no longer with us today.

Danny Boy
This song crosses the community divide in Northern Ireland.

The song has become one of the most popular songs among Irish Americans. To this day, it can be heard whenever people gather and think about their connection with Ireland.

The Foggy Dew
A song about the 1916 rising in Ireland. Versions have been sung by Luke Kelly from the Dubliners and Sinead O'Connor.

The song captures imagery from Easter morning when approaching Dublin City.

The song remains popular in Ireland can is frequently played by ballad groups in local bars across the country.

Raglan Road
Popularised by the ballad group "The Dubliners" and sung by Luke Kelly this is a version of the poem written by Patrick Kavanagh from Inniskeen Co. Monaghan who lived in Dublin later in life.

Raglan Road has featured in many movies and also features in many memorial services.

Patrick Kavanagh famously requested Luke Kelly to sing his poem. A rare break in convention from the otherwise "grumpy" Kavanagh.

The Town I Loved So Well
The song was written by Phil Coulter about his hometown of Derry but it transcends location and can represent any hometown missed by those who have moved away.

Popular with first generation emigrants this song often brings back memories of parents and grandparents who would play or sing it to take them briefly back to their own hometown.

As we can see, music plays an important part in helping us remember those who have passed.

Maybe these songs will bring back cherished memories of somebody who has since passed.

You can download "The Irish Remembrance Handbook" in PDF format below:


Irish Remembrance Ebook